A 19-year-old woman is charged with murder in the death of a 5-year-old boy in her care, after she told police he had been abducted by masked men in upstate New York, the Albany County Sheriff said Friday.
An Amber Alert was issued yesterday for Kenneth White after a 19-year-old caretaker reported he was kidnapped from an Albany-area home. Hours later, White's body was found "intentionally covered with snow" near the home where he lived with his legal guardians, according to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.
Tiffany VanAlstyne was charged with second degree murder in the boy's death after her story "started to not add up," Apple said. VanAlstyne, who is in police custody, is the teenage daughter of Kenneth's legal guardian.
Apple said the boy was strangled in what he called a "senseless death." He said the child was "thrown away like a piece of trash."
"It’s simple and it's sad," he told reporters during a press conference Friday afternoon.
"This was not an abduction," Apple said, noting that a motive has not yet been determined. "The investigation is not over yet. We still have some leads to follow up on."
The child's body was found early Friday by a sheriff's K-9 unit conducting a search in the rural hamlet of Clarksville, 10 miles southwest of Albany. His remains were discovered in a culvert across the street from the trailer where he lived.
VanAlstyne allegedly told police that two men wearing black ski masks entered her house in the neighboring town of Berne, pinned the woman to the floor and took the child at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday. She told police the men drove off in a pickup truck.
Kenneth's mother lives elsewhere in New York and his father lives in Massachusetts, Apple said.
Apple said the boy has a twin sister and another sister.
News of the boy's death shocked residents in the rural hill towns west of Albany, described by Apple as a close-knit area where everyone knows everyone.
Kenneth lived in a red-and-white striped mobile home on a rural road in Berne. Police vehicles were parked outside the home Friday morning, blocking access to the road.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.